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What is aplasia?

Aplasia means “failure to develop”. It is a common term used in cancer treatment to mean less blood cells are made in the bone marrow.

How does aplasia happen?

Cancer cells grow quickly. Some other body cells such as blood cells, hair cells, mouth cells and intestinal cells do as well. Cancer treatments, such as chemotherapy and radiation therapy, kill cells that grow quickly including cancer cells and some normal cells. Side effects are the result of the treatment’s effect on normal cells.

How does aplasia affect me?

Your blood cells will usually be low for 7 to 14 days after your cancer treatment. You will be at risk for infection, bleeding and fatigue, and maybe other side effects.

What can I do to help myself?

Please review the side effect fact sheets or “Chemotherapy and You” or “Radiation Therapy and You” booklets for tips to help with these problems.

Will the aplasia get better?

Yes. Your body will usually begin to make blood cells again one to two weeks after your blood counts drop, depending on the treatment you get. We will check your blood counts often to monitor the treatment’s effect on your blood cells.

Other Resources

Chemotherapy and You. NIH Publication, P117, 1/10.
Radiation Therapy and You. NIH Publication, P 123, 9/09.
Chemotherapy Fact Sheets. NIH.
Radiation Therapy Fact Sheets. NIH.

All available at 1-800-422-6237 or


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